I was driving home this morning and spotted a homeless man standing on a divide with a sign in his hand. I’ve seen this particular homeless man before, in a different spot, and so, like last time, I scurried to grab up all the change I had in my wallet and reached out the window to hand it to him. Like last time, he didn’t look me in the eyes – not in an arrogant way, but in an extremely humble way – and he simply said “God bless you” while performing the sign of the cross. Both times his gestures and responses shook me to the core.
Seeing homeless people in Portland isn’t an uncommon thing, so it’s not that I was taken aback – it’s quite normal, really. But something about this particular man really struck me.
Both times I was compelled to think of all the ways I am lucky. I think about this often, but it’s especially noticeable when in such stark contrast to someone living such a completely different life. Even if you just look at the basics. He’s standing in the middle of the street, holding a tattered cardboard sign, in dirty, ripped clothes, begging for change. I’m sitting in my nice, new car, listening to music on the radio, checking my iPhone at red lights, with a bag of expensive camera gear in the back seat. On my purse dangles keys to my apartment that I’m lucky enough to afford, the apartment that’s clean and large enough for us to be comfortable, in a safe and convenient area of Scarborough. I live with my husband, who encourages me in all of my personal and business-related endeavors, who makes me laugh and inspires me and protects me, who supports me in every way, and my two cats, who bring me joy every day.
I sit here typing this on a relatively expensive computer, at a nice big desk, surrounded by gadgets and toys and books, all kinds of things to keep me entertained and connected, most of which is unnecessary, truly. I work every day at a job that keeps me challenged, that lets me be artistic, that allows me to meet new people, and that pays me enough to be completely comfortable financially. I’m lucky enough, truly, to have people who are excited to work with me, who seek me out, who change their wedding date to have me there, who treat me like family. I’m lucky enough that, aside from my father passing away 10 years ago, all of my family and friends are alive – happy and healthy. My Mom and brother are two of my best friends, and they both live within 15 minutes of my home – we spend time together, we support each other, and we have fun all the time. I’m lucky enough that my husband’s family is just as amazing, and they have all embraced me as their own from the first few weeks that I was in their lives.
I’m lucky that I didn’t grow up in a home that was abusive, physically or mentally. My parents weren’t alcoholics or addicted to drugs. I wasn’t exposed to pain and struggle. I was lucky enough to be raised in a state like Maine, in a city like Portland.
I was lucky enough that my parents could send me to a wonderful, safe school for the entirety of my childhood and teenage years. I had many influential teachers, made lots of awesome friends, and had a great time, and learned a lot, both about things like history and science and Latin, but also about how to be a responsible, strong, personable human being. My parents, especially my Mom (only because she’s been in my life longer), raised me to be independent, confident, respectful, accepting, kind, polite, and fiercely passionate.
When I decided to branch out and start my own business, the challenge was invigorating rather than daunting. I knew I had the support of many behind me, and I knew that even if I failed, I would still be loved.
All in all, I am INSANELY, unbelievably, lucky.